Growing up in the outskirts of Chicago, Warren Moore, 31, says it was too easy to slip into the drug trade, which was the quickest way to make a dollar.
“Every weekend we would bury or incarcerate people my age,” says the youth program director at Kentucky State University. “I was fortunate to get sent here to escape that.”
That’s why Moore, a KSU graduate who lives in downtown Frankfort above Capital Cellars, is so enthusiastic about KSU’s Youth Entrepreneur Program. The one-week camp attended by high school students across the nation culminated Saturday.
“When you look at the economy right now, you have a lot of people out of work,” he said. “You look at crime, and the kids don’t have anything to do. They’re going to have real problems as they get older.”
Moore’s goal is to show students all the possibilities the business world offers, and several educators and business owners pitch in to inspire them.
Students are chosen based on how much organizers think they’ll get out of the camp.
“I do request grades, but I look at their reasons for wanting to come,” Moore says. “A lot of entrepreneurs didn’t have the best grades, so you can’t really judge it with a test.”
During camp, students learn to write résumés and how to implement a business plan, all the way down to producing a commercial for their new business. They also visit successful businesses and meet the owners.
Saturday, the team with the best business was chosen. The judges picked Solar Stylez Salon. Kyra Hulit, Jerica Ellery and Terrance Dankwa came up with a solar-powered hair and nail salon that offered high quality products at low prices. Judges determined they had the best business plan and commercial.
Chris Walton, a senior from Louisville, said he attended YEP because it goes into greater depth about things that are only mentioned in his classes
“I want to own my own business some day,” Walton, 17, said. He has worked at McDonald’s since he was 16 and says he’d like to open his own restaurant.
Walton and other students picked up some tips Thursday when several entrepreneurs in fields from entertainment to medicine set up booths during a workshop on KSU’s campus.
Students went from booth to booth asking questions.
“How much money do you make?” was 15-year-old Shayla Boone’s first question for pediatrician Jai Gilliam.
Boone, originally from Frankfort, says she’s mulling over being a pediatrician or an actress, and she’s curious about how things might financially pan out.
“That’s a good question,” Gilliam said with a smile before pulling out a chart that showed salary averages for doctors in every field.
“You’re going to make six figures being a physician,” he said. “But never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever choose a specialty based on how much money you can make, because if that’s the driving force, if that’s the first thing, you will not be successful. It’s not going to be rewarding.”
“I like kids,” Boone assured him. “I just wanted to know how much you make.”
Gilliam, a KSU graduate, went on to explain his journey into medicine, which started in the second grade.
“I love medicine, I love it, I love it to death,” was part of Gilliam’s last advice to Boone. “But whatever it is that you do, you have a passion for it. The monetary side is nice, but there’s nothing worse than letting this be your slave master.”
In addition to Thursday’s fair, students met successful entrepreneurs throughout the week.
Students said they enjoyed canoeing through Canoe Kentucky in Frankfort and touring E&S Gallery in Louisville.
“The owner of the gallery talked about his story,” Moore said. “He has owned something since he was 14, and even though everything he tried didn’t succeed, he carried what he learned into his next business.”
The gallery owner, Walter Shannon, told the students everything that went into purchasing and renovating a historic building in downtown Louisville into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and art gallery that sells contemporary and Harlem Renaissance era art from African American artists.
“He explained that not every experience is about dollars and cents,” Moore said.
Now that YEP 2012 is over, Moore said he’ll start raising funds for next year’s camp. Another goal is to get more business owners from Frankfort involved. The majority of help came from KSU and businesses in other parts of Kentucky.
“I only blame myself,” Moore said. “But if I can make this happen next year, I’d like to get more people from Frankfort involved.”